An evening of gratitude for seminarian support Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
lumen christi gathering
New seminarian Mark Foley meets with Lumen Christi Society member Eloise Paloucek from St. Mary Help of Christians Parish in Sullivan during the recent Lumen Christi Society event at Holy Name Heights in Madison. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photos/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- For the seminarians of the Diocese of Madison, it was both a sign summer is ending and their studies are about to continue as well as a chance to thank those making their discernment to the priesthood possible.

August 8 marked the annual reception for Lumen Christi Society members held at Holy Name Heights in Madison. The Lumen Christi Society is made up of supporters who pledge more than $1,000 to the diocese during the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA). Part of the ACA goes toward seminarian education.

For the discerners themselves, the event takes place near the end of the annual Seminarian Gathering, where they spend time together growing in faith and fraternity before the next school year begins.

Saying thank you

The evening started out with a cocktail reception in the courtyard. Here, the seminarians, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, and vocations director Fr. Greg Ihm, met and greeted society members.

It was a chance for the men to thank the supporters and for the society members to get to know those they have been supporting. Not the least of these were

the new seminarians who were experiencing this for the first time and readily introducing themselves.

The Lumen Christi Society members came from a variety of parishes all over the Diocese of Madison.

Some of them have been supporting these efforts for more than a decade.

Spreading the Gospel message

During the evening’s program, Jill McNally, director of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Madison, welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming to the “beautiful evening.”

“We want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for what you for the diocese,” McNally added.

“Thank you for your support, both monetarily and prayers, provided to the seminarians and the diocese and the bishop -- we appreciate that.”

Father Ihm spoke next.

“It’s certainly a joy to see many familiar faces again this summer,” Father Ihm said.

“Thank you for being here, but also for your generosity in supporting the mission of the diocese of trying to bring the Gospel message to all the corners of the diocese.”

He then introduced the seminarians in attendance who lined up in the front of the courtyard at the mention of their names, grade levels, and seminaries they will be attending this fall.

A few of the men were not in attendance, currently studying in Rome, but they were also mentioned by name.

Seminarian Bill Van Wagner was the next speaker, with a reflection on his time in the seminary and discernment.

He told those gathered, “It truly is your prayers and support that is really a catalyst for our perseverance.”

He called his past few years, “the most blessed years of my life and I thank God so greatly for such a beautiful calling and so many great opportunities that he’s given me . . . and the opportunity to explore his love for us and love for his Church.”

He also candidly called them “difficult” years with “suffering and struggle.”

“We have the secure hope that in the death of Christ comes the resurrection,” he added, saying through sufferings and weakness there can be light born into the world.

He reflected on how his time working at Camp Gray in the diocese and getting to know seminarians assigned there led him to his own call to enter the seminary.

Apostolic boldness

Bishop Morlino concluded the evening reflecting on the time he spent with the seminarians over the past few days.

Spending this week with them is always one of the most blessed weeks of my year, Bishop Morlino said.

He added that much of the week was spent reflecting on “apostolic boldness,” that each of the seminarians are called to.

“These young men want to grow and spread the truth of Christ without fear of the consequences, and that’s what boldness is -- to speak the truth knowing the consequences and without fear.”

The bishop said the seminarians’ goal is “to be a man in the best sense” and he reflected on the sacrifice involved with that.

“We’re so blessed in our seminarians, they’re so gifted,” Bishop Morlino said. “Their lives are so precious to us. They know what God and Christ can do in them and through them.”